Can Brighton & Hove Become A Beacon For The Future of Sustainable Food?
In 2015 Brighton & Hove became the first silver Sustainable Food City in the country. Now Brighton & Hove Food Partnership are asking everyone in the city to come together to ‘Go for Gold’.
A “sustainable food city” is one where the city works together to ensure good food is available for everyone, problems around food such as obesity or food poverty are addressed and there is not excessive food waste.
It aims to bring together food producers, people who provide food from shops, restaurants and places like hospitals and schools as well as the public, to ensure the whole city is able to access healthy food in a way which avoids unnecessary harm to the environment.
“It’s a big challenge and can only be achieved with a lot of people working together.”
Brighton’s approach to food: its food culture, its community food activity, and its collective approach to tackling food poverty, has been praised nationally and even internationally, and has become a model for other cities in the Sustainable Food Cities network.
Brighton & Hove and Bristol will both be working towards becoming the first Gold Sustainable Food City in the UK – a place where everyone can benefit from good food.
How will it happen?
The city of Brighton & Hove has a food strategy called Spade to Spoon, which sets out a long-term vision of achieving healthy, sustainable and fair food for all.
To go for gold, this strategy should be seen as a springboard for collective action, to take the city’s food system to the next level, galvanising activity, recognising and coordinating the efforts of the city’s army of food heroes.
Over fifty partners in the public and voluntary and private sectors, in schools, universities, nurseries, children’s centres, caterers, council departments, cafes, restaurants, shops, surgeries food banks and hospitals have been working together to achieve a ‘healthy, sustainable and fair” food system for Brighton & Hove.
Although the city food strategy has a 20 year vision, changing a food system is no quick and easy business. The current five year action plan is reaching its ‘use by’ date, most targets being met.
As a city, Brighton & Hove has:
- developed a city-wide Food Poverty Action Plan to address the underlying causes of food poverty. Other cities across the country are now using this model to develop their own food poverty action plans.
- tripled the number of community gardens.
- bucked the national trend, reducing the number of children who are overweight or obese at Year 6.
- gathered caterers from all the biggest public and private sector institutions across the city to help them transform their food.
- embraced innovation in our local food businesses – hiSbe, Silo, The Bevy, Street Diner, to name a few.
- led the way by being the pilot for the national Sugar Smart campaign.
- given evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Sustainable Food (2011) and on Food Waste (2017). And also the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry on hunger and food poverty (2014).
- developed a Planning Advisory Note which encourages developers to include space for food growing in new developments.
Citywide Action Plan
A new citywide action plan which will continue the transformation of the city’ culinary ecology is now sought. It is argued that a fresh strategy will take the city to a point where it can apply for gold. There are a few other changes from the last action plan which have yet to be achieved:
- To be better at measuring the impact of the food strategy and have better evidence for the difference food makes, in terms of health and wellbeing, happiness, and money saved for health and social care.
- To ensure the benefits of having a food strategy are seen across the city. A particular focus being around reducing inequalities.
- To involve partners outside the city where this makes sense. Especially in areas such as food production which don’t stop at the city limits.
- To involve the public more so that everyone can play their part. Especially in areas such as reducing food waste and eating more veg.
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership will be organising a series of events between autumn 2017 and summer 2018 to consult with a wide range of people and organisations to feed into the new action plan. By committing to an action, you’ll be helping the city go for gold.
Those interested in this community mission are urged to get in touch and share ideas, and if you want to pledge an action or a commitment, or simply join in the conversation on social media via #goldfoodcitybid, then you are warmly encouraged to do so.
This project is funded by the Esmee Fairburn Foundation.